Stimulating an advocacy and action-oriented conversation to promote and implement sustainable lifestyles, social and economic practices respectful of the needs of the most vulnerable people, and communities guided by spirituality, solidarity and non-discrimination: this is the main objective of the first-ever Advocacy Forum hosted by UISG, the International Union of Superiors General. UISG is the umbrella organisation for leaders of Catholic women’s congregations, which counts 1,903 members with headquarters in 97 countries, who represent over 600,000 Catholic Sisters worldwide.
This event, delivered in collaboration with the Global Solidarity Fund, will be held on the 23rd and 24th of October at the Jesuit Curia in Rome (Borgo Santo Spirito, 4). Under the title Religious Women: Leadership and Development, UISG will gather its global networks for a two-day discussion aiming to identify priority areas for national, regional and international advocacy that can lead to systemic change, linking traditional wisdom and spirituality to emerging needs deriving from the rapid transformation of our societies. The topics will centre on some of the most pressing challenges of our time, impacting the harmonious development of our societies and our planet; these include climate change and biodiversity loss, poverty, unemployment and social inequality, forced migration and human trafficking, health crises and violations of human rights.
Within this framework and as a contribution to the Church’s synodal process, UISG and its global network will welcome representatives of governments, intergovernmental agencies, Vatican institutions, faith groups, civil society, private sector organisations, academia and the press. Drawing on their experiences, the testimonies they have gathered, and the challenges they face in different parts of the world, Catholic Sisters and their allies will explore where greater resources should be allocated and how to foster advocacy and programming measures, both locally and internationally, for the wellbeing of people and the planet.
“Catholic Sisters are on the frontlines of the world’s most urgent humanitarian and development challenges” – says Sister Patricia Murray, Executive Secretary at UISG. “Through centuries of supporting marginalised and vulnerable communities, accompanying their suffering, and sharing in their struggles for empowerment and justice, Sisters have developed an exceptional model of community engagement, making their grassroots networks a key piece of the international development puzzle. UISG believes those networks must be connected with decision-makers at the global level, in order to channel their potential and foster truly sustainable, systemic change: this is the vision that guides advocacy at UISG and underpins our first-ever Advocacy Forum.”
This Forum represents the culmination of a process that began over three years ago, in July 2020, when UISG launched Sisters Advocating Globally in collaboration with the Global Solidarity Fund. The initiative aims to create a network of Sisters committed to social and environmental advocacy, facilitate communication and collaboration with partners, and establish spaces for reflection on key themes of international development. To this end, UISG has hosted two previous events in 2023: a first dialogue in April addressed environmental issues including climate change and biodiversity loss, while a second in July focused on migration, highlighting needs, challenges and opportunities.
“Sisters are ready to contribute to the systemic transformation of our societies with their experience in a wide range of roles” – says Sister Patricia Murray. “Catholic Sisters are teachers, nurses, engineers and first responders in emergency situations, but they are also researchers, scholars, executives and leaders at all levels. Linking local to global through our Sister-led networks, UISG aims to facilitate a sharing of experiences and an exchange of reflections, to shape discussions on international development around the needs of local communities.”International Union of Superiors General (UISG)
The International Union of Superiors General (UISG) is a membership organisation representing over 600,000 Catholic Sisters worldwide. Established in 1965 and inspired by the Second Vatican Council, its main objective is to promote deeper collaboration between Catholic women’s congregations. Alongside its core mission of training, supporting and connecting members, UISG acts as an umbrella organisation for Sisters engaged in tackling some of the world’s most pressing development challenges.